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The Christological And The Cosmic Problems


The essence of the Christological problem is the question as to the
union of natures in Christ. Are there two natures divine and human in
Him? Is each distinct from the other and from the person? Is the
distinction conceptual or actual? The incarnation is a union. Is it a
real union? If so, what did it unite? We have seen that such
questions cannot be approached without presuppositions. What these
presuppositions shall be is decided in the sphere of a wider problem.
This wider problem is known as the cosmic problem. The solution given
to it prescribes the presuppositions of any attempt to solve the
specialised problem. We shall proceed to sketch the cosmic problem,
and to indicate the three main types of answers given to it. It will
then be evident that these three answers find their respective
counterparts in the Nestorian, monophysite and the catholic solutions
of the Christological problem.

As man's intellectual powers mature, two supreme generalisations force
themselves on his consciousness. He conceives his experience as a
whole and calls it the world; he conceives the basis of his experience
as a whole and calls it God. To some minds the world, to some minds
God, is the greater reality; but both concepts are present in varying
proportions wherever thought becomes self-conscious. Here we have in
its lowest terms the material for the ontological question, the first
and the last problem of philosophy. God and the world, at first dimly
conceived and scarcely differentiated, gradually separate and take
shape in the mind as distinct entities. The concepts become
principles, fixed by language and mental imagery. The gulf between
them widens until they stand at opposite poles of thought. In their
isolation they constitute a standing challenge to the mind of man. If
he thinks the world in terms of time, he must postulate a creator. If
he thinks the world out of time, he is forced to conceive a ground of
the world's being. The world cannot be thought without God nor God
without the world. The one necessitates the other. Yet when the
thinker tries to define the terms, he can at first only do so by
negatives. The world is what God is not, and God is what the world is
not. The two primary concepts thus attract and repel each other. The
mind's first task is to grasp them in their difference. It cannot rest
there, but must proceed to attempt to reunite them and grasp them in
their unity. Thus the main problem of philosophy is to conceive and
find expression for the relation between God and the world.
Christology attacks essentially the same problem. Christology is an
attempt to define the relation between God and the world in terms of

This relation has been conceived in three modes. According to the
level of thought reached, or, as led by their disposition and
education, men have made their choice between three mediating concepts.
Hence derive three divergent types of thought and three outlooks on
life fundamentally opposed. We shall take them in their logical
sequence for convenience of treatment. The historical connection is of
no importance for our present purpose, but it is noteworthy that the
time order both of the schools of philosophy and of the corresponding
Christological systems follows approximately the logical order.

Next: The First Solution Of The Cosmic Problem Dualism

Previous: Dependence Of Christology On Philosophy

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